About open access

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What is open access?

Open access refers to material that is free at the point of access and licensed for reuse, so readers can use, reuse and share research easily.

You might be considering open access because your funder requires it, but there are many other reasons for doing this. 

  • More exposure for your work: Open access makes your work available to those who may not have access to the resources needed to read it. This could be researchers (including those in developing countries), government bodies, charities and individual scholars, as well as the general public. 
  • Greater impact: You can reach a larger audience, with the potential for more citations, media coverage and engagement with readers. Practitioners can apply your findings without barriers. Your research may even influence policy.
  • Compliance: You’ll be confident that you have complied with the University, funder and REF rules.
  • Public benefit: By making research and scholarship more widely available, open access can contribute to the public good and help advance academic progress. 

A brief history of open access publishing

Open access is not new. Open access publishing was happening ‘unofficially’ throughout the late 1980s and 1990s.

The first ‘open access journal’ was the Bryn Mawr Classical Review in 1990. From 1991 onward, physicists were publishing pre-prints in Arxiv.

The term ‘open access’ was officially coined in the 2000s. Three documents set out the principles of this new movement:

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Why open access?

PHD comics discuss open access and the reasons behind the movement.